Actor Steven Seagal Not Dead. Also, Not An Actor.

You know how they say a key step to having a successful blog is to write haphazardly & on a catty-wompus schedule for several years, and then go COMPLETELY DARK for almost two years while you go off and actually live a more interesting life? And then when you come back to the blog you’ll try to write about the goings-on of the extended hiatus, but then you’ll sit down and have no clue where to start? And that this all makes your blog the Most Awesome Blog?

You know how they say that, right? They do. I heard ‘em. They talk loudly in small spaces.

It works just like in the movies. They do an amazing first run of something, then go completely silent with no rumblings of ever coming back … and then, when they surprise everyone with a sequel, it will be even more amaze-balls (to wit: Rush Hour 2, City Slickers 2, Look Who’s Talking Too, You’ve Got Mail (c’mon, that was basically Sleepless in Seattle 2: Sponsored by America OnLine)… but somehow the sequel ALSO makes the first one that much more enjoyable?

So… welcome to Most-Awesome-Blog: Back From Action And Back In Action!

… we’ll be right back, after we’ve written a decent treatment for what may sort of be good enough to at least be the first eleven minutes of the first act, including one exciting incident.

Let’s All Go To The Lobby!

Psssst… you just missed the exciting incident! Now it’s all just exposition & deep background! Hope those nine dollar Twizzlers were worth it!

As I was saying.

I spent 9 months in action, completing the exaggeratedly-named One-Year Program at the American Comedy Institute. Over the course of those 9 months, I finally did stand-up. Several times. I co-wrote & co-starred in a pilot for a web series. I co-wrote & produced a spec episode of a late night talk show. I performed in three scene nights & three improv shows, and a sketch comedy showcase. I learned audition techniques. I learned on-camera techniques for commercials. Oh… and did I mention that all of this took place outside the ol’ day job? and in New York City? while also still being a decent-but-with-room-for-improvement father to a five year old & husband to a three-peat entrepreneur?

In short, while the hiatus was long, it was nothing if not action-packed, and I’m certain this is the place to return to for an in-depth analysis. Like when Steven Seagal took a hiatus from being Buddhist – he made a shit-ton of amazing (for their time, for my adolescent perspective) action films with the perfect amount of gratuitous nudity, but when he was done, Buddhism was so glad to have him back. Buddhism was like, “Okay, did you get all that out of your system? I sure hope so because your pillow is getting cold & the monastery needs a good sweeping. Yes, yes, we all want to hear what you learned, but you’d better have a push-broom in your hand the whole time, Brother Ponytail!”

Over the next umpteen posts, I’ll try to explain the what & the how of all that action, as well as try to summarize it in some scholarly fashion so that my kids (both of them – R is due in Feb with a baby boy) can learn from it before my still-nascent-but-looming dementia robs them of the whole shebang.

But for now, let me leave you with this: I spent a year exploring various comedic pursuits, and while I still don’t know what the future ahead will look like, I do know that it’s highly unlikely that any one thing, role, or job is going to define that future. The number of people that can fill a lifetime being only one thing is ridiculously small… and the ones I’ve met that have relegated themselves to that goal are mysteriously unfulfilled and SHOCKINGLY UNINTERESTING.

Along the way I’ll try to weave in other source materials – as much content as I’ve created since my last post, I’ve also consumed a whole bunch – to fill in some holes & round out some analogies. In essence, then, the blog itself will cease to be ‘just’ a door found on your way down a rabbit hole, but it will become a rabbit hole itself.

… Okay, okay, I hear the pretense. I’m just saying there’s a shit-ton of stuff that I’m going to shoehorn into your peepers, so if you’re here with the expectation that this is the same blog it was two years ago, well, think again, Watson. More info, more insight, but still the perfect amount of 90s pop culture references and 80s-level gratuitous nudity.

Because boobs.

But up next will be a post on tonight’s show at the Schimmel. I will be in the audience. Will you?

High-Five Yourself.

So 2010 has started.  It’s 1% over already, actually.  What’s next?  First a quick look back since the last time:

In November I auditioned for Bay One Acts.  Two weeks ago, I also auditioned for The Lion in Winter with Chanticleers. I didn’t get either one.  The first one hurt a lot & I had to pump myself back up for a few weeks.  I almost backed out of the audition for Chanticleers because I was probably the least confident I’ve been in the last year.  I couldn’t find much drive or ambition.  It took some strong conversations with the wyf – she could easily tell the wind was out of my sails, and I was getting frustratingly namby-pamby in all discussions about the acting stuff while we were back East for the holidays – to remind me that it’s completely unreasonable to expect to do a great job in EVERY single audition I get.  I can’t expect a high-five from the auditors every single time.  Which is tough, because who doesn’t love a high-five (aside from Howie Mandel)?

In critical retrospect, I was pretty unprepared & consequently ur-nervous about the Bay One Acts audition.  I didn’t rehearse my monologue much because I thought it was a shoe-in.  Then, the second half of that audition was a cold read during which I did a HORRIBLE job reading for comedy; I read for drama because I was nervous & didn’t want to risk being not funny.  I read their scene with three other people, and feel like I was the only one of the four who looked like a completely uncomfortable body on stage.  Now I look back on it and struggle not to shudder remembering how awkward I must have looked.  Horrible.  Just horrible.

The feedback from the director at Chanticleers was that I spent too much energy trying to memorize lines for the cold read instead of just acting with the script in hand.  I didn’t have enough variety in my tone & volume – I got the impression I came across as a dial-tone actor (think Topher Grace or Randy Quaid).  Not for nothing, though, it was a difficult reading scenario; I read with the director’s wife, a self-declared non-performer that did a bang-up job of doing nothing but staring at the script and reading the words in front of her.  It kind of felt like being on stage by myself, and instead of taking advantage of that & owning the scene, I hung back limply & worried about how to react to someone who isn’t doing anything worth reacting to.  Hence, delivering a dial-tone performance.  What I learned from it, as I’m sure it won’t be the last time, is that I have to constantly sell myself as the character I’m reading, no matter who or what else is on that stage.  That takes confidence, which I can’t afford to lose again.

So, next.  I need confidence-building activity.  I’ve checked TBA for future audition opportunities & haven’t found much that sounds practical.  I’ll check again this week once their staff is back in the office & have updated listings, but I’m leaning towards a class for the first few months of 2010.  I’ve picked out three options, all in ACT’s halls:  Voice Building for Singers (so that I can stop being scared away by musical auditions), Improv (a safe way to go that’s almost guaranteed to help my confidence), or Audition Technique (to help de-mystify the process a little further & hopefully learn some coping skills for mistakes I make).

Let me be clear:  I’m NOT giving up on doing this for a living.  Challenges be damned, I still KNOW how great it feels to be on stage & entertaining folks.  That’s what I want to do.  I want to be awesome at it, so when I’m complete crap in an audition, I question myself.  But every actor deals with sucking every once in a while – some get addicted to it (coda to Topher Grace & Randy Quaid). I don’t know exactly what I have to do to get where I’m going, but I have accepted that it will be a process with pitfalls & peaks, like anything else.  That’s the whole reason I built this website, actually… to document the process.

So I need to be honest here if nowhere else.  Hence the documentary above about two failed auditions.  But I’m moving on.  I’m gonna high-five myself.  After all, high-fives are the glue that hold society together.  That’s actually all a clap is – a self-fulfilled high-five.  So high-five yourself and clap hands in 2010.  Then buy my t-shirt.  (Stay tuned.)

Oh, Nine…

Yes, yes, the inevitable self-reflecting post that comes with every new year. This year, comrades, will be different. Nine is my favorite number, as it is the first odd perfect square, and it’s the number around which every single math skill I have is built. What does this mean? Well, aside from the fact that I’m a Supreme Nerd, consider that I’m also a bit superstitious. Maybe it’s the little Chinese man in me (we all have one… even Oprah), but I feel like the calendar year that represents one or several 9s has GOT to be especially significant to me – and ever the optimist, I believe it will of course be especially POSITIVE.  For instance, 1999 was a VERY good year.  Full scholarship to Penn State, lost my virginity, and made two of my life-long best friends.  It was 3x as good as any year I’ve ever had, and it had 3 nines in it.  It’s science.

So this year will be awesome, and I’ll start it off with an awesome post.  This could easily be another ‘here are my resolutions that I resolve during this first week of the year when everyone else is also resolving’ blog post, and you would still love me.  But because I am insanely creative & ever so Nerd-ertaining, let’s turn up the Awesome.  Presented below are all of the superheroes I will be by the end of 2009.


Secret Identity: Mediocre analyst who steals time from the company to blog, twitter, and buy stuff on eBay.
Corporate double-speak & nonsensical blurbs (i.e. “it is what it is”); politically correct insults
Able to work 16 hours in a single day
Makes amazingly important decisions with almost no data to support it by relying on “gut feel”
Impervious to actual analysis, busy work, and cubicles
Key Weakness:
Unable to add true value to any business situation, given status as “middle man” between the Supreme Executive Powers and The Data Monkeys.
How To Exploit:
Ask MISTER MANAGER to put together a presentation on what it is he does here.
Secret Identity: That funny friend who seems completely insecure & slightly socially inept unless he’s making fun of  someone, something, or himself.
Pop culture references, politically incorrect ethnic slurs, profanity, poop jokes, dick jokes, boob jokes, sex jokes, synonyms for ‘vagina’, and neoliberalism; also Mexican.
Able to work for hours & hours on stand-up material while only getting paid in laughter
Makes old jokes new again by adding insignificant pop-culture references that last less than two years so that new jokes become old jokes again
Impervious to public humiliation, physical intimacy with a real person, and postgraduate education
Key Weakness:
Inflated sense of self-worth – as this increases, humor & superpowers decrease (i.e. Seinfeld, Al Franken, Dane Cook)
How to Exploit:
Repeatedly explain that he’s “such a good guy” and tell him people still love him even if he’s not funny.
Secret Identity:  The guy who sees sees a bag of Oreos as a buffet, and who treats buffets as a self-defining feat of endurance.
Calories, nutrients, scientific names for parts of body/musculature (i.e. trapezius dorsi, gastrocnemius, gluteals), different types of spandex, perfect usage of ‘no homo’ dialects
Able to fepeatedly rise at crack of dawn to spend 60 minutes validating himself as physical specimen and/or trying to uncover the elusive ‘six pack’ with almost no true progress
Makes protein-packed lunches that are both nutrient-dense and delicious – tuna salad on rice cakes, boiled chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt
Impervious to bagels, Bugles, burritos, burgers & babyback ribs.
Key Weakness:
Simple sugars like those found in icing, M&Ms, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and anything creme-filled; also guilt.
How to Exploit:
Bring him a baked good that you made yourself, and deploy Guilt Trip when he politely declines.
Note to Mr. Lee, G-More & JBee:  these ideas are for sale – it will only cost you one cameo spot in each adapted screenplay.

Immersed But Not Extinguished

WOW.  I think you all would have left me by now if not for microblogging.  It’s been SO long… yet some of you still come by every once in a while; I appreciate that.  I appreciate even more that, in the last week, I’ve had three friends tell me they read the blog & that they want a new entry.  Let it never be said I don’t give the people what they want.  Unless, of course, by ‘people’ you mean John McCain, and by ‘what he wants’ is my vote.

Hark!  Could this be a political post?  Nay, dear reader.  I only spice up the intro with the occasional buzz term to increase my popularity with web robots who have no idea how boring I can be.  Case in point:  Sarah Palin, Tina Fey, BARACK OBAMA IS MY HERO, I Want to Be A Plumber, Al Smith.  See?  Simple.  Part of me is even tempted to use the words BREAKING NEWS STEVE JOBS HAS REALLY DIED to see if Bloomberg picks up on it, publishes it, and causes yet another stock dive for AAPL.  (Mentioned that on the podcast, which is going well, by the way, and we’re recording episode six on Sunday morning.)
No no, you’ll simply get the update.
Job:  Going well, if at a BLISTERING pace.  For a while we were actually back to the work schedule I kept on a regular basis at Corporate HQ in New Brunny.  My boss is gone, and still not replaced, so I’ve been able to step up and take on some new responsibilities and some more ownership.  I’m the only guy on this huge trade funds project now, and that’s the thing that’s been keeping me there so late – yes it’s huge, yes it’s important, and yes I’m the owner, but no, it’s not exactly filling me up with the sense of purpose or fulfillment that I’d feel if this was what I really loved to do.  But on the upside, I have learned that I get more enjoyment out of projects that I feel I can own – and projects that I can own & understand, more importantly.  So the trick is to learn things quickly & then start to own them as soon as possible.  Seems intuitive, but then so does your choice for our next president, and at least the middle portion of the country will still manage to vote for their prejudice instead.
Wyf:  Doing great things at her job; health could be better, and it actually has gotten better in just the last two weeks.  Was quite rough & tumble there for a bit, and we still have lots of follow-up appointments to check off, but for now we seem to have emerged from that dark cloud.  We just celebrated our first anniversary by going down to SLO for a quick weekend getaway; we had an awesome time, stayed at an awesome place for two nights, and even got surprised with a dinner reservation at a great spot in downtown SLO.   But you know that rule about not drinking while in a hot tub or a jacuzzi?  Yeah, there’s a reason that’s a rule.  Almost collapsed like a naked sack of potatoes.  Twice.
Running:  did the Bridge to Bridge 12K, and it was probably my least favorite race experience to-date.  eading up to this one, I basically gave myself a bye on regular runs because I had just ran the SF Half Marathon about 5 weeks earlier & figured there couldn’t have been much lost if I just warmed pine for a while.  I was wrong.  1) I ran pretty slowly during a race when I really should’ve been able to cruise along much closer to an 8-minute mile; 2) I ran alone – Wyf was supposed to run it too, but hasn’t been feeling up to snuff for training for something like that, so we decided abstinence was prudent; 3) my form was off and I got a pretty bad feeling in my right hip flexor, which I’ve never really felt before unless I was running lots of hill repeats.  The bright side is that it’s probably one of the worst experiences I’ll EVER have at a race, because I learned not to run alone & to make sure I keep up with regular short/medium distance runs even if I’ve trained well over the distance of the race.  Plus, now I have a ‘bad race’ under my belt, and you only need one of those.  Check.
Improv:  this is a completely blank slate this time, and I have no one to blame but myself.  If I was REALLY craving it, I would’ve found a way to make it happen even with all the crazy work hours.  I let it be disposable, and thus it became disposable; yet I refuse to dispose of this part of my life.  I definitely let myself get immersed in work, but this little light o’ mine ain’t extinguished yet.  Another upside to the long work hours is the improved work environment:  because most of my team has put in some longer hours, we’ve gotten closer & I feel more comfortable joking around with them & working on some routine material (more on that soon) while at work.  So I’ve been able to augment work to fill a little bit of this void, but it’s still a big gaping hole in the middle of my psyche.  This means my psyche is donut-shaped, which also means my psyche is delicious.
Podcast:  thanks to TechGuy’s limitless patience & flexibility, we’ve actually managed to get these recorded on a regular basis.  We record #6 this weekend.  I’ll admit that I feel so self-conscious about whether or not I’m just a rambling idiot on the show that I still haven’t listened to any of them after they’ve been uploaded to iTunes (hint hint: go subscribe to it!).  But we have a ton of fun doing it, even though I think it has more of a ‘wung’ quality to it than TechGuy’s probably comfortable with.  For all the technology out there, we still haven’t found the Doc Brown that lets us create more time (or go back in time to drive a sweet Studebaker), so none of the three of us really have time to do tons o’ research & scripting beforehand.  I think it’s fine – feels green, organic, wind-powered.  And we’re THIS close to getting sponsorship!  ;-)
Goals:  I think I need to look up what this means.  Based on my current definition, I count 19,818 ‘goals’ that I’ve yet to achieve.  (Actually, that’s Excel’s COUNTIF function.  One of the 407 goals I’ve actually achieved was to ‘Put Goals in spreadsheet for ease of tracking.’  Suck on that one, Propensity to Procrastinate!)  Makes me feel like I fail a lot.  Which, as we’ve all learned, is okay.  But I’ve yet to find anyone who goes & tells people about all the things they failed at.  (That’s Goal # 15,722:  Find the one guy who only has stories of extreme failure that isn’t a Bush.)  So I think I need to start whittling down the list and make it at least all fit on one page.
That’s the key though, I think.  Focus.  Pick three elephants to juggle & do it the best you can until you do it well enough to add another.  Never been something I’ve been great at – look at this blog entry, for example.  Three political jokes, minor cultural references, and a bunch of randomly generated “topics” to fill in my readers & try to drop knowledge (see! minor cultural reference!).
So before the wyf decides to go to our date night dinner establishment without me, let me wrap up by picking the next three things on my list.
1)  Figure out a viable next step in the Career.
2)  Keep physically active until such time as you’re inspired to create a more audacious goal, like a Marathon.
3)  Finish writing a solid 5-minute routine of open-mic material AND JUST GO DO IT ALREADY.
Oh… and just one more thing:  watch this space for a new idea I have that’s very related to #2 and possibly something I could craft into accomplishing #3.
Also… thanks for coming back.  Good to see you again.  Did you bring me anything?  ‘Course not.  You never do.  And now you expect me to let you watch our new 52″ LCD HDTV that I got for half price at Best Buy.  You are SUCH a Republican.

Events Like These

Last night our friend Mary Schaefer brought us along to a benefit dinner for 826 Valencia:

From their website:

Simply put, 826 Valencia is dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their writing skills, and to helping teachers get their students excited about the writing. Our work is based on the understanding that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success and that great leaps in learning can be made when skilled tutors work one-on-one with students.

So, last night we had three hours of sushi, wine, and an unexpected “field trip” experience in which all 70 of us collectively composed a short story. The short story was typed up on-screen as we went, as well as illustrated on the fly courtesy of Lisa Brown, author of Baby Mix Me a Drink and wife of Lemony Snicket (Dan Handler). We all left with a bound book, a decent wine buzz, and feeling like we had contributed to an important, nay.. VITAL .. community organization.

I, however, left with a serious jones to be a Volunteer Leader within this organization, joining the ranks of Jory John (website, which is funny but not about him) as a Field Trip leader. Jory & his leaders basically do the highly-improvisational work of leading a classroom full of kids through the highly-improvisational process of highly-improvisational story creation. The work is improv because he can’t possibly plan how things will end up, the process is improv because each class will go about it differently, and the story is improv because, well, they’re making it up. You can tell that he really loves what he does and that it’s highly rewarding for him. I’d love to take some of the burden off his shoulders. 826 has like 1,600 volunteers on its rosters in the Bay Area, but only six.. SIX… of them share the Field Trip leader responsibilities with Jory. I’m hoping to be lucky number seven.

Now, most of you don’t live where 826 Valencia makes a difference… but you probably do live damn close to one of the other 826s.


If you’re at ALL intrigued by the concept of empowering our future through the thoughtful donation of time & resources to help children/students write sentences better than this one, I urge you to investigate this organization. It was founded by Deggers, one of my favorite authors, and has been helping students around the country based solely on support of donors (of both money AND time). It’s an AWESOME endeavor, and I really can’t wait to play a bigger role in it.

Now it’s just the issue of figuring out how to sell the boss (& her boss) on me taking 3 hours every other week to lead a Field Trip. If anyone is an expert at getting a small-to-medium corporation to release you from business needs for volunteering opportunities that aren’t organized by same corporation, please let me know. Jory has offered to write a very nice letter to those who need to approve my departure, but I’m still nervous – any tips/tricks would be helpful. (I would’ve been happy just participating in the company’s Junior Achievement program, but they totally dissed me – I signed up to volunteer and haven’t heard diddly-squat back – so now I’ve got 826 as my avenue to give something back.)

Anyway, back to work. The pressure’s eased a bit, hence the blogging over an actual lunch period, but I still have crap to do.

Too Late To Apologize

Where the hell have I been for two weeks? And two weeks, eff that, it’s been more like a month since I posted anything more than links and funny photos… my loyal readers must be so upset with me. Duly so, I’m afraid. My energy lately has been split three ways: work has lately been consuming about 80% of my waking hours; marathon training is another 10%; which only leaves 10% for the rest of my life: the Marriage, Quality Time, making new friends, maintaining long-distance relationships with old friends, attempting to define the rest of my life professionally… ON TOP of the standard chores of cooking, cleaning, laundry, collecting toe nails in a bag in the closet, reorganizing my stuffed animals, and attempting to teach math to blind kids using flash cards (which is about the least productive thing I’ve ever done – they just won’t learn!)

Now you might ask about my recent birth on Facebook and question my fidelity to Wyltie here. Well, as I said, my ENERGY is going to the list of minutiae above, which does take about 95% of my TIME. The other 5% of my time, when I’ve got no energy, is when I spend time twiddling my thumbs playing Scrabulous and updating my status message to whatever witticism strikes me as fleetingly suitable.

Wyltie, on the other hand, is not forgiving when I just type and ramble or link random sh!t. Wyltie takes energy. Plus, I know for a fact that you people are more likely to sniff out the latest Facebook updates rather than come here & look for posts – mainly because a) I update FB more often; and b) you get the deets on everyone in your virtual universe all on one page, as opposed to having to flip through to various blogs. Believe me, I understand the convenience of that. So Wyltie pays off less than FB does – people are much more likely to write on my “Wall” (what the fuck kind of concept design is that? who do you know that has a wall anywhere that other people write on? wall-writing is for rest-stop bathrooms and prisons, not social gatherings, whether they’re virtual or in meatspace) than they are to leave comments here on the blog. Why? Presumably it takes more effort to comment here (not same page as in FB), plus there’s a psychological thing about actually being able to see YOUR comment on the person’s page rather than just see Wyltie’s little comment-count thinger go up a digit – you feel secure your message will be seen / heard by at least the intended recipient (for the record, I’m just nerdy enough to have Wyltie email me automatically any time someone posts a comment, so invariably, I do see them… I don’t always respond, but am trying to get better at that part too), but you probably think maybe will see it and check out your profile & want to #$meet&* you in the @#Taco Bell Drive-Thru$*& and call you a #$*343#ugly woman@@ and twist your %$*nipple$&$ at a medium pace. Don’t steal that, by the way… I’m the first FIRST FIRST to ever just put the word I’m censoring in the middle of the usual censor characters. One point for me in the Creativity column, one in the Genius column (come on, it’s Awesome), and one in the First Nerd To Claim It column.

So, it may be too late to apologize (love that song, mainly because of its immense popularity in New Zealand whilst there for our honeymoon), but for what it’s worth, I’m sorry for not having the ENERGY to be here as often as I promised I would be. Cry me a #*fucking&@ river. (Told you. Awesome.)

Now, the update:
1) work is busy busy busy but I still like it almost every day;
2) training is going well – did 13.3 miles on Sunday in 50-60mph winds during the run over the Golden Gate, leg is definitely sore (ACL inflamed) but should mend with time;
3) R and the Marriage are doing well – though I’m already panicking a little about the first anniversary present because I can’t afford to mess that up (TOLD YOU IT WAS AWESOME);
4) acting is not happening so much – see reasons 1-3 above, but I DID go to a Chess club a few weeks ago in the interest of remaining social among my people (Nerds);
5) family is doing okay – sister had her car totaled by some old woman in San Diego who probably shouldn’t have been driving, but at least sister wasn’t in it at the time and everyone is okay, parents seem to be doing well as Dad gets closer to surgery on neck/back and Mom finishes up her Associate’s degree at Penn State, seeing the Iowa clan in a month down in LA but they seem good (loony, but good) as always, in-laws sound healthy & happy which means I can’t be totally screwing up the Marriage, and there is no movement on the needle that measures Pregnancy, which means there will be no new Hansens in the world any time soon (thank you drospirenone!)

This post is mainly about getting you up-to-date, but in the interest of getting back to the point of this whole Wyltie thing, I pose you, dear Reader, with a question: do you think there is space on, say, the Food Network for a loveable, approachable, slightly rotund & balding male chef in his late twenties (it’d take me a year or two to get through Culinary School & actually have some kitchen experience) who cannot only demonstrate his skills in the kitchen, but that can do so whilst also causing you to laugh hysterically? That is to say, if Rachel Ray were funny, but at the expense of being able to show you each and every detail behind her recipes, would you watch her?

‘What a weird question… why do you ask?’ Because, dammit, I want out of this corporate stuff (still like what I’m doing but it’s not who I am) and I want to be on stage in some way. Given the ‘slightly rotund & balding’ qualifications, I may never make it in a completely dramatic or comedic way, so I have to find my own niche, and I’m considering that maybe it’s the one-two punch of Comedy & Cuisine. The little bit of stand-up material I’ve been writing (yes, I’ve been working on it) has almost zero to do with food, but that’s only because I haven’t been focusing in that way. (Can’t shoot a deer in the woods if you’re aiming at the ducks on the pond… unless you’re really really bad at hunting… or if you’re Dick Cheney.) I think, I THINK, that I could make cooking funny. Or food funny, or some combination thereof. Or hell, I could just bring my comedy into the kitchen – Would you still laugh at Richard Pryor if he had done his Africa routine whilst whipping up a Sour Cream Cheesecake? Probably, because it’s damn funny. But I want to know what you think. So tell me already.

Puttin’ It Out There

Enough already with the waffling between fitness programs & nutritional vigilance. Here’s my frikkin’ FitDay journal.

You see me putting half a cheese pizza in there, or eating Slow Churned three or four times a day, call me on it. You see me NOT putting in my activities (either too lazy to input them or too lazy to even do them), then call me on it. Finally, if you have questions or want help doing this type of thing for yourself, ask. Happy to help. FitDay helped me get realistic about caloric intake and food composition, and then I was really able to change the way I thought about food.

It did more than just teach me what’s worse for me; I had a pretty good idea of what was bad & what was worse & what would ensure I’d hate myself for in the morning. What it did was show me that a handful of almonds is a decent snack but increase it to two or three handfuls, and, healthy fats aside, I might as well have eaten half a bag of Oreos. If you’re going to eat a lot of something, even a “healthier” something, it can still put a dent in your allowance. In order to eat more than a cup of something at one time is fat-free yogurt or cheese, some fruits, most vegetables, and popcorn with non-fat seasoning. Bet you didn’t know that. F you if you did, cuz you didn’t tell me before I got fat.

It also helps you keep tally on those little snacks, and on drinks/sodas/juices. A Pepsi & a small bag of pretzels is still a 425 calorie snack – 20% of what your intake should be. But spread those out, meaning a Pepsi in the morning and pretzels in the afternoon, and you probably wouldn’t even register them as things that you ate that day. That shit adds up!

But one of the most powerful things that I think this helps you to see is the TYPES of foods you’re eating when you think you’re doing yourself a favor by skipping meals. I was under the assumption that, if I just snack most of the morning and most of the afternoon, I would probably come out to about the same as if I had eaten a big cheeseburger and a small salad at Ruby Tuesday’s. Not even close to true; see the above pretzels & Pepsi example. Even a shitty Big Mac is only about a thousand calories; if you instead ate three bags of pretzels & had two Pepsis, you’re already at about 800 calories. Sure, you haven’t eaten a fat-encrusted unnatural “meat substance” dipped in “CHEESE” and special sauce, but you have consumed roughly the same amount of calories – and it was basically all sugar.

Carbohydrates are not evil, but if you’re skipping lunch because you’re too busy WORKING or just aren’t hungry, you’re not burning off whatever calories you’re taking in, and carbohydrates are short-term energy sources, but the body treats them all pretty much the same – they are quickly converted to fat, the body’s long-term storage unit, if they aren’t needed immediately. That is, if you’re not moving around and burning the 800 calories worth of pretzels & Pepsi, the sugar converts into fat because the body doesn’t need the calories yet. It’ll break down the fat when it has to, but until then it will insulate your body in case the food stops coming completely.

But you know what’s more easily broken down than fat? Protein. Also known as muscle. So you haven’t eaten a “fatty” lunch, but you’ve snacked and stayed sedentary. When you do finally run up the stairs because you’re late for a meeting or try to make it in the doors of the FedEx Kinko’s before the cute girl leaves for the day, your body will burn muscle because it’s already stored the carbs as fat, and muscle is more readily available than fat (assuming you’re not already in great shape in terms of metabolic efficiency.)

Have you done yourself a favor by skipping meals? HELL NO. Your body burns muscle instead of sugar or carbs when you finally do get active. You did eat 20% less calories, but you’ve basically just made them part of your spare tire collection & received no nutritional benefit whatsoever. (At least the “meat substance” would’ve had a solid 15 grams of protein to help protect/create muscle fibers.) And guess what? Know how you feel run-down and queasy because you didn’t eat lunch & just snacked? Yeah, that’s your body’s response to your blood sugar going through more peaks and valleys than Rosie O’Donnell, and it isn’t following the same natural wave it normally follows throughout the day. So what’s your body doing? It’s taking blood away from your head, pulling it into your stomach, and using the extra oxygen and heat to convert whatever sugar is in your system into fat for long-term storage, because you’re freaking it out and it’s going into scarcity mode.

Do this 80 times a year (every fourth or fifth day) without giving your body the nutrients it needs, you’ll put on 20 pounds, your libido will suffer, you won’t sleep as well, and you probably have skin problems. All because you thought having pretzels & soda instead of a Big Mac HAD to be better for you.

In general, this is still true – but only to a point. FitDay helps you find that point. That’s all I’m saying. In this huge rant, that’s all I’m trying to say. And I wish like hell I could find/be blessed with the business savvy to take their little model and blow it into a full-fledged Bob Green-endorsed accessory to 5-Factor Fitness.

List #1

I’ve spent the first two hours of my day thinking about the following list. I think about it in spurts, so it took a while. Luckily blogging about it should move quickly. Below is The Top 50 Realistically Alternative Jobs That Would Be More Fun Than Corporate America. Qualifications for this list include:

-has to be something that I would actually do. Being an adult film star would PROBABLY be more fun than Corporate America, but I wouldn’t actually do it, therefore it won’t be on this list.
-has to be a JOB, not a career. Again, porn star would probably get excluded here, but so would Architect, Real Estate Agent, Race Car Driver… basically anything that would occupy my time FULLY and preclude me from having another job at the same time. Actor does not get excluded, for instance, because while it could be a CAREER, it would most likely just be a part-time thing, at least until I can get to a gym often enough to stop looking like Chunk from the Goonies and more like Tyler Durden.
-has to steer me away from the doldrums of desk work and at least feel less routine.

So, without further ado, I give you The Top 50 Realistically Alternative Jobs That Would Be More Fun Than Corporate America. These are in no particular order, because I just don’t have time to prioritize them right now.

50. Skydiving Instructor

49. Line Cook – not chef, too much responsibilty & looks more like a career option.

48. Movie Theater Owner/Operator – not too careery; could sell out at any time.

47. Phlebotemist – not a full-on nurse, just the guy who takes your blood and/or plasma, like for Red Cross.

46. Actor – duh.

45. Comedian – double duh.

44. Movie Quote of the Week Administrator – LOVE that sh!t.

43. Video Game Tester – would probably get bored eventually, but hoo-boy would it be fun.

42. Homemade pastry chef – think bake sales, not Kara’s Cupcakes.

41. Carpenter – so what if I know nothing about it now? I can learn. Carpenters need math skills too, right?

40. Cashier – working in Martin’s Grocery Store #32 in Waynesboro was one of the least boring things I ever did.

39. Croupier – as in the guys who work the craps tables or roulette tables in casinos; must be non-smoking casinos.

38. Sailing captain/instructor – of course I’d have to learn how to do it myself first. Details, people, details.

37. Blogger

36. Movie critic

35. Restaurant / Food critic

34. Travel writer

33. Improv teacher – believe me, my profs make next to nothing at this, but dammit do they have a good subject to teach.

32. Opinion leader – as in people actually come to me for my opinion on something, like socks. How many socks opinion leaders would you need? I’d be the Oprah of socks.

31. Oprah’s chauffeur – realistic because I drive REALLY REALLY well.

30. Jerry Seinfeld’s assistant – realistic because I look Jewish, even though I’m not.

29. Lewis Black’s best friend – realistic because I’m just as angry, and will probably end up just as ugly, as he is.

28. Julia Roberts’ smile consultant – realistic because … um … I have teeth too.

27. Movie Theater projectionist – much less responsibility, all the fun, half the money.

26. Courier – getting paid to ride around on a bike and drop sh!t off for $30 an hour? Hell yeah!

25. Marketing consultant (part-time) – helping a friend or relative get their business/restaurant/career off the ground by helping promote it in new/creative ways. I’d be AWESOME at this.

24. Student – could be a career, but I can probably only afford to do it for a few years. Hated papers & tests while in college, but now think I’d appreciate it more & would learn more.

23. List maker – seriously.

22. Part-time book editor – for instance, why do I care enough about punctuation & grammar to make sure that every note on this list has some form of punctuation at the end of it?

21. Charter pilot – SERIOUSLY.

20. Child wrangler – as in the guy who works at the day care center but is really only responsible for not losing the kids & making sure they learn / have fun. No need to change diapers.

19. Lifestyle guru – if I could just give up all this financial security crap and just go after doing what I want to do, I would love to tell people how to do the same thing. Plus, guru is just a cool title.

18. Counselor – as in not a full-blown self-help diva or psychiatrist/ologist, but just someone people can lean on / trust / talk to about their issues. I do this now for friends & family, but wouldn’t mind doing it for others if earning a buck or two.

17. Hotel critic

16. Hotel reception

15. Wedding Maitre’D – this guy basically gets paid BUKU dolares for being super-organized and efficient for 5-10 hours a day, maybe 3 days a week.

14. Landscape “architect” – as in the guy who plants shrubs & maybe even knows a thing or two about how to design a landscape. Did this for a summer – Best Job I Ever Had.

13. Consumer advocate – put my sense of respect and duty (as well as temper) to good use by helping other people fight against The Man, without getting into politics.

12. Deep sea charter boat captain – my grandfather seemed to have the most fun in his life when he was out on the open sea, trying to catch big fish. Would love to bring that experience to people.

11. Customer service representative – obviously prefer to do this for a company/product that people LIKE, but could handle just trying to solve people’s problems with their bank, credit cards, etc.

10. Waiter

9. Bartender

8. Speech writer – not a career one, but a personal one; some people make a decent go at writing wedding/bar mitzvah/Oscar speeches for people, and I know speeches.

7. Founder of ‘Friends’ Fan Club – maybe that’s less-than-hetero, but I seriously love that show. Maybe my sister & I could run that sh!t together.

6. Board game designer – this one borders on career, but holy Hannah, if it was for a small/independent/family company with minimal bureaucracy, I’d be in.

5. Caterer

4. Greeting card writer – along same lines as speech writer, only potentially more lucrative/stable.

3. SNL writer – only Al Franken and Lorne Michaels have done this their entire life, but the difference is that I would be GOOD AT IT.

2. Presentation skills consultant – these people make lots of money for just telling folks how to present better; whether it works or not, they still get paid. Plus I’m not bad on stage.

1. Church founder – new type of church that’s based on humor and the healing power of laughter. Check out Tom Robbins’ “Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates” for a looksee.

I could combine a few (dozen) of these and still bring home the bacon, but I’d probably have to give up a lot of ‘free’ time or personal time… and I do love my free time… but I might be able to survive with less of it if I got to do these types of things all day long. It might start to feel like my whole day was free time, y’know? Wouldn’t that be sweet.

Any thoughts on this list, drop a comment. And if this post, or ANY post, particularly inspires you, PLEASE let me know. That’s what this is about people!

Back in Action Question Mark

I have 18 minutes before the weekly staff meeting is supposed to start. The BRIEF update:

Just got back from the Sales Rally in Vegas. Had fun. Lost money (surprise!). Very little free time. Sampled lots of new products, some of which you’ll love. Met lots of great people, already feeling more at home there than I did at any big meeting of non-Financey people in health care.

New boss starts today. MyLinh (mee-‘lyn). Met her in Vegas, seems nice, just moved here from Minneapolis. She’s already nervous about managing our VP, already scares me into thinking she’s going to kill us both to make sure he’s got EVERYTHING he could possibly need or want. Which means I’m already nervous that I might start hating life here too. But just nervous.

Got lots of friendly emails over the past week I’ve been incommunicado. May not have time to respond to all of them immediately, but between the blog and what emails I CAN write, you should be relatively informed as far as my life is concerned.

Wife’s birthday is coming up in 3 weeks. NO idea what she wants. Pretty sure she doesn’t expect a whole lot, but c’mon. Any ideas, let me know.

Next improv class starts next Wednesday; can’t wait for that.

And for those of you who rely on WYLT for all your worldly news, THIS WEEKEND is the weekend you get an extra hour of sleep by turning your clocks back an hour at 3am on Sunday morning.

Wow, that was quick. Had I known I could get through all that in 8 minutes, I might have also planned a deeper thought for this morning. But alas, I haven’t.

OH, but I did want to catch you up on the running goals. So I was trying to get to 45 miles before Thursday. I’m at 21. So that means either two very long runs beginning at 4:30am the next two mornings… or that I’ll miss the mark. And (here goes…) I’m okay with missing the mark. (Admission of defeat! Ownership of failure! Woohoo!) I thought it was a fairly realistic goal, and honestly, I did GREAT for the first three days I was in Vegas. Then the lack of sleep caught up with me, and I haven’t run since Thursday afternoon.

But this is one of those opportunities where I can either dwell on f***ing up, or I can own it and move on to the next scene, which is training around 30-40 miles per week by Christmas. (That means building up to that distance by the time we peace out for Kiwiland, not running 30 miles next week.) I want to get back on that regular schedule. Keep me honest, folks. Could’ve used your help last week, but the blog went dark so I can’t really fault you for not checking in. But grazie to Mr. anonymous poster, warning me about the perils of shooting for a minute:seconds goal per mile at my first marathon. That’s a good reality check, assuming you’re a runner yourself. If you’re not… maybe your my art teacher from 3rd grade who never wanted me to succeed and sent me to the school counselor for anger management. I still hate you a little bit for that, Mrs. Ressler.

More later, but I’m back.


I’ll get back to the wedding stories soon. In the meantime, before I lose my inspiration, I want to tell you that I’ve decided that I’m going to run either a half-marathon or a full marathon in May 2008. I’ve even come up with my personal training plan to get me to that distance, without worrying about my pace, before May. First milestone: hit 45 miles total distance between this past Wednesday (10/17) and November 1st. Since Wednesday, I’ve already logged a little over 11 miles, which is super. While I’m in Vegas next week for the sales rally, I really shouldn’t have a problem fitting in 3 miles a day, and it’ll for sure be cheaper than gambling.

I wanted to put that milestone up here so you guys (all three of you) can keep me honest, and you can ask me how my training’s going, and I’ll be more motivated knowing that I have to report back to my blog if for some reason I don’t hit a goal. R’s a great accountability partner too, but there’s something about the faceless guilt that you, dear reader, can impose upon me that I want to avoid even more than the wrath of my wife (!).

So keep me honest, bitches! I have 5 months (plenty of time) to learn how to run 26.2 miles without dying. But I only have 11 days to run another 34 miles, and I plan to take tomorrow (Sunday 10/21) off so that I don’t go too crazy too quick.

In case you’re interested, I did 5.5 miles today, along this route. It was definitely one of the clearest Saturday morning runs I’ve ever experienced; you could see the bolts in the GGB from the Marina Green. AWESOME. Love this city.

I’ll let you know when I pick my race and hopefully figure out a pace / time goal. The way I’ve been going, it looks like it might take me over 4 hours to finish. But if I can manage to get in some speed work and pick up the pace a bit, I can MAYBE manage to break 3:30. We’ll see where I am after the honeymoon (we get back on Jan. 2nd). If I can finish a 10-miler in less than 90 minutes by then, I should be able to pace it up to 8 minute miles, getting me to a 3:30 finish for the 26.2. But we’ll see.