Archive for December, 2003

No end in sight

Wednesday, December 31st, 2003

I’m just so goddam tired.

This is one of those nights where it doesn’t matter how little sleep you get the nights before, or how sick you are, you just aren’t sleeping.

The last two nights have been, from eyethud to eyesnap, packed with nightmares. One featuring a dying man under my couch who was trying to get my attention by grabbing at my ankles. I deal with my nightmares pretty well, I lucid dream about 75% of the time, (so, y’know, there goes the theory that it leads to any kind of enlightenment). A lot of times in dreams when I’m not getting a straight answer from someone I’ll yell, “Aha! *You* can’t tell me, because *I* don’t already know! This is a dream, mother fucker!”

But the nightmares pale in comparison to my own fury about my employment situation. I’ve spent so much time in my life crying wolf about work that I guess I have to have periods of honest failure in order to make up for it.

My LA scam was this: I can’t get work because I don’t have headshots, I can’t get headshots because I don’t have any money because I don’t have any work. (Someone offers to get me headshots). I don’t want headshots now because I’m gonna lose weight. As soon as I can afford a personal trainer, which I can’t afford because I’m not working…

It’s bullshit, and I don’t know why no-one called me on it. The truth is, I wanted fame and riches and I didn’t want to do grunt work to get it, or, more accurately, the moment I humiliate myself to do grunt work, I lost my skill as an artist and the grunt work I actually do is usually bad.

But that isn’t the case now. I’m trying my damnedest. I really am. The acting thing? I don’t care if I make no money, I’m just trying to do the best work I can, and I’m trying to continue working because at least the quality of the work will remain high, and then when the financial opportunities present themselves, I’ll be ready and capable.

But the music publishing stuff is actually making me sad, making it hard for me to sleep. The employers who do love me and who send me work are dear people who have a couple thousand dollars worth of work for me a year. Sometimes more. And I like them a lot as people and I really enjoy working for them.

But every other thing I have tried to do has been met with… God, there’s no resistance, no nothing. It’s been met with giant smiles and accolades for my skills and promises of work that simply have *never* materialized. “I’d love to work with you,” says I. “We’d love that as well, you’re fantastic! We’d like you to be a part of this project!” says they.

And then I wait.

“We should really be rolling by October 1, the middle of October at the latest…”

And I’m still waiting.

God, I’m really stinking good at this stuff. I can do it for them, or for anyone, for practically no money. I’m a relatively talented guy, but more than that I can tell talent from three long city blocks away, I can find you exactly what you are looking for and I can get it from someone hungry and willing to work cheap. And YOU KNOW IT. YOU’RE the one who TOLD me this.

I wanna marry this awesome girl and I want her to have a better reason for having babies with me than my fucking crooked tooth gene. I don’t want her to get choked up when I give her diamond earrings because she knows I can’t afford it. I want her to get choked up because they’re too damn big to wear on her ears. I want to get her earrings that she hates because they are so big. I want her to wake up in the morning with pillow filling covering her head from where the giant diamond ripped out divets.

I don’t dare to dream to be a well paid actor, I just want to act and I figure the rest is gravy. But I really should be a well paid producer, both in terms of theater and recording. I am in a different place now than I was in LA, I don’t have a scam, I’m actually trying to make everything happen as well as I know how. It just isn’t happening yet, and since I know I lied to myself and everyone else for so long, I hope this isn’t retribution.

Just Imagine

Saturday, December 27th, 2003

Pretend you hate George Bush. Not too hard for most of you reading this blog.

Now pretend that Russia, a country on the other side of the world who has always claimed to hate the US, decided to unilaterally invade America. They want to do it in order to bring a new system of government, to liberate us from a leader who assumed the reins of power even though he was not elected, to stop us from using chemical weapons on any country we want regardless of international opinion, to stop our government from fleecing its people and running up the national debt. To stop our government from using half of the world’s resources and creating half of the world’s polution despite having 5% of the world’s people.

Russia is a wealthy country, but it feels pretty obvious to the Americans that they are invading us for money more than for liberation, when you consider the acts of the invading nation, they are hardly a better country than ours. Their leaders were elected, but by a horribly corrupt system, and it’s a country where they murder their own citizens with a history of ethnic cleansing and brutal warfare.

Now imagine that, although you have been told that your army is strong and proud, imagine that we folded. In two or three months, we folded. Bush went into hiding and the Russians killed thousands and thousands of us. They tore down the Washington monument and hung the flag of Russia over Lincoln’s face.

Wouldn’t you fight? Wouldn’t you bomb? God, if you had a gun, wouldn’t you shoot it? The fourth airliner was run into the ground once the Americans on board heard about the first three. Do you think we would take this shit?

Now, imagine, you hate George Bush. You know he was shoved in office by his daddy’s cronies, that he didn’t win any election, that he is trying to make us live our lives in a way we don’t like. But then he is found, and all you see is invader-sanctioned television showing him with a foot long beard being poked and prodded, with Russian hands in his mouth and his hair.

Would you be happy?

Christmas Eve

Thursday, December 25th, 2003

We have had a great day, but great days aren’t really what I use this blog for. I use this blog in order to demystify the demons that I have, I use this space for looking for the worst in situations, I don’t really use this for celebration.

So, the bad part about today is that I miss the family who isn’t here. I miss my dad and I really miss Kent and Melissa and the kids. I always miss my dad on Christmas, but I also missed him a lot for my whole life so that’s something I have learned to manage. I really wish we could have been with Sean and Lucas today on top of all this.

Our last two Christmases were sort of a last hurrah, I think. We’re now moving in to more of an adult Christmas, one where we bring our new families together with our old ones, where we try to marry the people we marry to the people we were born with. And it is just really lovely, although it is new and different. To say this is as good as we can expect to have in our mid thirties is wrong, it is much much better than that. But I do miss the people who can’t be here.

Jordana and I had our first date at a Passover Seder, so we are definitely aware of the sublime and the ridiculous when it comes to something like this. That night she asked me what my favorite children’s story was, her belief being that your favorite fable from childhood is indicative of what your priorities will be, who you are deep down.

After thinking about it some time, I told her that my favorite story is the story of the christ-child’s birth. Not the virgin and not the martyr to be, but the shepherds and the wise men and the manger surrounded by animals. There was nowhere for them to sleep that night, Mary was in danger of dying if she didn’t find somewhere to lie down, and they ended up in the barn. When the baby was born, shepherds were told, “Listen, you need to see this. Someone needs to see this, and you are right here. You are *right here*! Come on.”

There was a child who would change the world, but right now, he had nothing. The feeding trough was the only place to put his head. Greatness can be achieved by anyone, no matter how insignificant they might seem. Some of us achieve only what has been made easy for us, we only spend the time we have spared, we only love those who love us, we only travel the road that was built before we got there. But from this tiny baby, this one shining miracle of birth in a sea of billions and billions of births, this person changed the earth, made us what we are today.

So, it sticks with me. I cry every Christmas, at the songs and remembering the stories. I can’t really be coherent about something like this, but for me, it is larger than the cliches. I am no Christian, but I love what Jesus means to me.

Jordana is pretty sick, she had a bleeding cyst on her ovary that has made her unable to keep any food in her and made her terribly uncomfortable, and I got really scared tonight for a little while, really scared that she was going to be going through something bad. And I just know that the greatness that she was born to be has not happened yet.

Your job

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2003

I have spoken about the kind of directors that I really like already, but lemme just sum up. I don’t want you to try to teach me how to act. I want you to say “this is how this looks, this is too slow, come in from stage right, take your time with this passage, move down center on this line, remember what happened three scenes ago, exit stage right using the other door.” I’ll do all the rest.

And, along those same lines, don’t raise the fucking terrorist alert. Do your job. Keep me safe. Or don’t do your job and we’ll find someone who can. I can’t worry about any goddam attacks, none of us in New York can. We’re *working*.

You have the greatest military force and intelligence gathering facilities at your fingertips. *I DON’T*! What do you want me to do? You want me to panic, you want me to thank you for the warning about an attack you couldn’t stop? You want to make sure you can say “I told you so”? What, exactly, motivates you to tell me to be scared?

I’m not even one tiny shred scared. I am a student of history, (barely coherent most of the time, I know, but a student nonetheless) I know how tenuous the human condition is, I know how many hours I have to finish my life, to do my work and have babies and love and get sick and grow old and die. I know the limitations on my possibilities, and I just don’t have it in me to worry about what *you* should be taking care of.

Katherine Hepburn said of Meryl Streep, “I don’t like her. You always see all the work she’s doing, all those gears and whistles burning up the screen.” Exactly.

*MAN*, would I bang Katherine Hepburn.

Anyway, don’t tell me to be careful. Don’t waste my time. You’re just saying that to make it seem as if you are working overtime. You want me to see you wringing your hands and wiping the sweat off your brow while you “fight terror”. You idiot, terrorists want us to be terrified, that’s the whole point. All they want is for us to have some sort of national fear index, some way of weighing the crippling terror we are carrying around.

You bought into it, Bush & Co. You’re like the cops in Die Hard who follow the terrorist handbook and cut off the power to the building so that they can get into the safe. You called it a “crusade” you idiot. You said “this is the guy who tried to kill my dad.” You’re just so incredibly stupid, so clumsy, so befuddled and so calculating.

Well, I’m not gonna be scared. Right now I’m scared because Jordana is in the hospital getting her stomach checked out. My family is two hours away and I have to drive with drunks in order to get there. My friends, and my family, have love lives in disarray, and I am waiting to see if I can start making money at the job I’ve been promised.

I am already worried. About my real life. About *REAL THINGS*.

So above all else, above the Christ-as-a-philosopher, above the anti-gay and anti-women laws, above the attempted destruction of our ecology, above all the obvious reasons, the fact that you decided to raise the terror threat index two days before Christmas and made my brother insane with worry, that’s why you will never get my vote. Jackass.


Saturday, December 20th, 2003

People tend to wear their disfunctions on their sleeves. If it isn’t an eating disorder it’s a struggle to battle addiction or to overcome a rotten childhood. We start wanting to be judged by what we *aren’t* doing; that we need credit for overcoming our inclinations for bad behavior. Food is described as “sinful”, running for an hour on a treadmill, one of the most absurd activites invented by man, is greeted with congratulations.

I quit smoking a year and a half ago in a flurry that deserves no attention and no credit to me. I suddenly lost the taste for it. Those of you who smoke will know this feeling, when you smoke a cigarette and it does nothing good for you, just makes you feel hollowed out like gallon of cookies and cream with all the oreo bits gone covered in freezer burn. That happened one day, the next cigarette was just as bad, the price of a pack jumped and I sorta wandered away from it. I had been trying to quit for years before, but sometimes the path makes it way for you and last May was when I was supposed to quit.

My ex was an anorexic. Not so’s you’d notice, she never seemed to be unhealthy although she was always very trim. But it’s the behavior that I identify with. Anorexics aren’t trying to be thin, that is incidental. They are trying to find control, control over their world ultimately, but the have to begin with themselves. They deny themselves food because the weight loss and the feeling of hunger is their fault and they know they are in charge of it.

Fat people have the same thing. The feeling of fullness and the extra weight you have gained is your fault, you’re in charge of it. And that’s a refreshing feeling. You get angry when people congratulate you for losing weight, you resent feeling good about being thin. It’s hard to explain this to people, but fat people want to be fat, they want to have reasons for the hate they feel and they want to be in control of who they feel it for.

I have enormous wellsprings of hate. I used to direct it at my dad, then I directed it at the “system” and the “world” and a thousand other groups of people. The reason this blog is called “Seanrants” is because I am pretty well known for just losing my temper and explaining, in long exhaustive detail, about how much shit is pissing me off.

But I know I’m wrong most of the time. Sometimes I still get angry for the right reasons, sometimes those deep wells of fury that burn inside of me, those reserves of magma-like hatred that make my back break out in boils, sometimes they come to the surface for rational reasons. But knowing that hasn’t done anything to make me any happier, I have to take a two step approach; A) avoid the thing that fills me with fury and B) find ways to control my anger when it is undirected.

I have found that cooking really helps with my anger management. I really like to cook for other people. I cook a lot, I cook at unreasonable times, and I cook too much. I like to make big breakfasts, I like to make deserts, I love the way brown sugar feels and the way butter and flower mix in a pan. I put together dinner menus and I invite over people who don’t make me furious and feed them food.

But this cooking of mine is essentially anorexia, and I know that. I am fascinated by cooking the same way I used to be fascinated by how much and how quickly I could alter my body. Strange to think that my anorexia does nothing to change my weight and actually makes the people around me fat. But allowing some self expression to come out like that, giving me something constructive to control, means I’m not going to blow up the next time someone does something horrible. I’m just going to walk away and bake some cookies.


Friday, December 19th, 2003

There is very little that I do with my life that can be considered holy. Almost everything involves some sort of earthly pursuit and always has. There has always been this great battle for sex and money and sensual experience. Also, despite the fact that I take other people’s rituals very seriously, I have seldom taken my own with much more than a grain of salt.

The wedding that Jordana and I are about to have has been considered, for the last six months or so, a thing we are doing for other people. We have demurred and told people not to worry about it, we have laughed and tried to find ways to keep the whole thing grounded. Jordana in particular is the kind of person that desperately does not want to be the center of attention, and it has been painful for her, almost humiliating for her, to ask the people around her to do things for the wedding.

I think I may have turned a corner on the wedding. I think, considering the quality of the bride in this ceremony, that she ought to not be humble in asking for people’s help and input. There are people who are celebrated constantly, who crave attention and need celebrity, and these people generally get what they want. When you prioritize your life like that, you will achieve your goals.

Jordana is a very private person, a person who is not going to try for the spotlight, a person who will probably never have too many festivals held in her honor. But she should, and this wedding is one night where she will. This is not a night to be taken lightly, if fifty thousand dollars are going to exchange hands for this one night, and it is a night that is celebrating not only our union but the fact that this one beautiful strange creature, who has been wildly misunderstood her whole life, has a chance for marital happiness, then maybe everyone, inluding me, should take it very seriously.

The really wonderful thing about this is that my immediate family has been celebrating this wedding not only because Jordana makes me so happy, but because she makes them so happy. My mom said it best, that she was celebrating the marriage because she got to have Jordana join the family. So maybe I shouldn’t worry so much about it.

In Your Hands

Tuesday, December 16th, 2003

Jerry Falwell stated, at the 1992 Republican Convention, that there was a holy war being waged in the United States, the we are fighting over the spiritual soul of America. The Republicans lost that election and have been really good about distancing themselves from right wing Christian quacks ever since, but that’s not my point. My point is that he’s right, and I am asking you to fight.

The fight isn’t where you might think it is. It isn’t at Abortion clinics and synagogues, although those are important battles and we have to continue to join hands against hate and ignorance…

Yeah, that’s right. I said “join hands”.

…we have to continue to join hands against hate and ignorance, but that isn’t a fight we can lose simply by being lazy. The fight is in our minds. It is a war against the worship of celebrity that is more in our hands than any other fight, and it is just as important.

Please, turn it off. When the TV is showing you celebrities at nightclubs, grainy video of some heiress in her underwear, turn it off. Just turn it off. It’s become a self-feeding monster, and it’s up to you to stop it. When the daytime TV shows were showing endless loops of White Supremacists and people who slept with their boyfriend’s dads, we started turning it off and rising above it, and now it’s time to do the same with the Hilton sisters and the stars of Smallville.

Boycott the E! channel. Boycott red carpet coverage. Boycott Parade magazine and People magazing and yeah, even Rolling Stone if they can’t get their shit together. You make yourself small when you oogle, when you stop and stare as someone does the simple act of *walking*, when you celebrate someone because of their simple *existence*, you lower the level of discourse in our country. When you have an opinion about a famous person’s marriage, you’re burning calories that could be used for *masturbation*, which is a useless tast, but at least one with an iota of satisfaction at the end.

There is a fine line, to be sure. My brother Ian wants to talk to artists he admires at weddings, and that isn’t this. For me it exists somewhere that side of the Osbournes and this side of The Osbournes. The TV show is brilliantly edited and masterfully put together, it is an allegory on family love, the makers of it demand craft and they should be celebrated.

But then, on MTV, Kelly Osbourne sings at the MTV music awards and Jack videotapes her, and on The Osbournes, on the same network, we watch Jack videotaping Kelly at the MTV music awards, and then, on E!, owned by the same company as MTV, we watch Kelly and Jack arrive at the MTV movie awards, and then on Entertainment Tonight, produced by the same company but in syndication, they run a piece on Jack and Kelly at the MTV movie awards…

We need to turn it off. I’m not kidding. I don’t want to talk about who is famous, I want to talk about who is good. The film-makers behind the TV show The Osbournes are brilliant, the members of the Osbourne family haven’t done anything yet to garner any attention. Ozzy had his moment, but none of the rest of them have earned their celebrity. You are making this happen, you are creating a cult of personality, you are excusing drug addicts and rapists, or passing judgement on them unfairly.

I’m gonna say it. You are creating the same environment that leads to totalitarian dictators. They had pictures of Saddam and Lenin covering their walls, we have pictures of Ashton Kutchner.

I know you will be tempted to drop me a smarmy message about the fact that I couldn’t possibly know all this unless I watch it myself, but I don’t. My roommate has it on in the background a lot, and I have to hide in my room until it’s over. Those *HOUR-LONG SPECIALS* that air *every night* featuring celebrities giving the camera the finger and trying desperately to be left alone. People, artists and sportsfigures who try to eat a meal or go to a gathering and get harrassed by people demanding autographs and pictures, people who are recognized by the fact that others recognize them, this needs to be stopped and only we can stop the supply side of the economics that drives this ridiculous machine.

Don’t laugh at how dumb the girls are on reality TV. You’re the asshole that is making that dumb girl rich. Don’t sneer at a celebrity’s behavior. You’re the asshole that makes him think he is above reproach.

The Boss

Monday, December 15th, 2003

I refer to my mom as “Boss” in the studio because, well, I like refering to her that way and also it clears up any kind of nepotism problems we might have anywhere outside of Utah. In Utah, if you aren’t hiring your family members then you don’t have enough kids.

The main knock on my mom is her apparent arrogance. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but the only time people get angry about my mom’s behavior is when she says stuff like “I’m too talented to take out the trash”, a wildly out of context misquote often attributed to her. Her adult ADD and her bad driving and stuff like that is all laughed about, but people have accused her of being haughty and judgemental.

The fact is, my mom is just a punk. Y’know that girl in high school? The slightly chubby one with the quick wit and the loud unreserved laugh? The girl with the mohawk and no money who bums cigarettes off you and invites herself to dinner and then makes you laugh? Wanna know what happens to her if she lives another 60 years? She becomes my mom.

I mean, the truth is, she couldn’t give a fuck. Every once in a while I think she feels slightly underpolished, slightly tubby and ungraceful. And truth be told, she does run into stuff, a trait she handed down to me and my brother Kent. But you wanna know why she fedexes her underwear to her next gig? Because she doesn’t want to carry them. Simple. It costs her ten bucks, and she’s figured out what ten bucks buys her. It buys her the ability to not have to carry her crap around. She couldn’t give a shit about that ten bucks.

Wanna know why she lost her keys and found them in the fridge? Because she was unloading the groceries, she set her keys on top of the cottage cheese, and she couldn’t give a shit where her keys are. You can hang up your little key chain rack or put out a silver bowl, my mom is gonna put them wherever the hell she feels like it. Because she is actually punk. She’s not doing it to be cool, she actually doesn’t have the capacity to give a shit.

How much jewelry does she have? No clue. Floating around the United States there are gold chains and silver hoops, diamond earrings and opal necklaces, all of them owned at one time by my mom and set down in restaurants and on top of phone booths. Where are her nice clothes? In a box. Maybe in Oregon. Where’s she’s never lived. She doesn’t know why. Even God doesn’t know why. And neither of them care.

Wanna know why she’s too talented to take out the trash? Well, she just is. But do you wanna know why she said it? Because it was a waste of her time. It was a fucking waste of her time, and her time was too damned wasted as it is. She should have had her trash taken out for her.

(Man, it’s no wonder my parents marriage failed. Neither one of them should have been taking out the trash, and since all of us kids thought we were better than everyone else, none of us wanted to do it either.)

Yesterday, I woke up and made breakfast for everyone and then I cleaned the kitchen. I set the mouse traps and sat down and worked for about six hours. I worked with Jordana for about half an hour on her audition. I worked for an hour or so on my script for Lucretia. I took out the trash. I watched the end of Alias with Jordi, washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen, talked to some friends on the phone and went to bed.

I did these things because I am very talented, but I am also useless unless I am being of service to someone. I know that about myself, I went years thinking I was too talented to take out the trash, and those were sad years. Jordana picked up dinner after her audition. She is too talented not to get cast, too talented not to go to auditions, but not too talented to pick up Chinese food. She has taught me the value of service for people like us. Amazing people, brilliant people, but not rare, once-in-a-generation kind of people like my mom.

My mom is too talented to waste her time with bullshit, with dinners and jewelry and nonsense. If you get the chance to take some of her time, you’d better understand the quality of it, because she’s also too kind to tell you to your face. If you get to be part of her family, if you get to eat with her, or if you get to work with her on music, then know that you are getting to be part of her non-wasted time, because these are the things that she is too talented not to spend her time doing.

Someone’s got to take out the trash, I understand that. If all I can do for my mom while she’s at my place is to be the guy who does that so she doesn’t have to, then I hope I continue to do it.

Kids and Money

Thursday, December 11th, 2003

Today was one of those days where a ton of past work sort of sits a happy moment in your lap.

I’ve been doing these recordings long enough, and made enough mistakes with the parents over the years, to be able to smooth over a diffcult set of circumstances without re-inventing the wheel every time. The only time I can get into the studio is the first night of Channukah, but the Jewish kids seem to be fine with it and all the parents are pretty psyched up. Mostly it’s because I work with good people, but I know that they all understand that the work I do is with an eye toward benefiting the kids, so they generally fight for me when given the chance.

Then, we sat down to do a run-through of Lucretia tonight, and it was pretty damn good. At least, I know what I need to work on, and Mac and Jordi were awesome. We have been hired to do a Christmas party (I mean, we produced a show that can be sold as Christmas Party entertainment. Us. The people who brought you the Dirty Juanita. Amazing.), so we had to find out where we were.

The company is getting paid some money, but we have borrowed tons of talent to make the show happen and now it will be a thrill to pay those people a little something for helping us make the show. We have a couple of agents who want to sell it, and it looks like that would be really fun.

I promise more actual rants soon, I know y’all love it when I just decide to *bitch* about stuff. I do have one little complaint tonight. I have to shave off my beard in order to do Lucretia, and it was just getting awesome.


Saturday, December 6th, 2003

So, there are other aspects of this.

One) Metaphorically, food is the most important thing we have. Hunger and satiation of hunger are the two most powerful tools we have to explain wide sweeps of emotion, and for some of us, ironically myself specifically, oral fixations mean that we are only fully happy when we are eating or ingesting with our mouths in some way. When you want something, that is one thing, but when you hunger for something, that is carnal, that is passion. When you have the thing you wanted, then, sure, you got it, but when you are made full by something, when you are sated, then it’s as if you need or want nothing else.

Two) In a Jungian sense, there is nothing more important than food. Every myth from original sin to the Olympics has, y’know, apples or something. Fruitcake has a really rich history. In England, fruitcakes are the traditional wedding cake, bridesmaids are supposed to put fruitcake under their pillow the night after the wedding and they will dream of their husband to be. Every food has an ancient story about its uses and its poisons, every religion has it’s food laws. Even the Mormons have jello.

Three) Meals are actually unnecessary. We would be healthier if we just consumed a coupla hundred calories every coupla hours. But we have meals because we need to, it’s our chance to come together, to declare our family time, not in arrogance, but in celebration. Going out for a meal is amazing, you get to have that family time without having to actually cook anything or do any dishes.

Four) Serving another person, in humility and with attention to the act of humbling yourself to your fellow man, can be one of the most fulfilling spiritual acts that one can do. Buddhists know this. Real Christians know this. If you can lose your ego and devote yourself to the happiness of the people around you, you can learn about not only yourself, but also about those people and the world.

So, really, that last blog wasn’t all that well thought out.

That being said, if you think you’re cool because you bring people food, then you suck. You didn’t make the food, you aren’t expressing anything with the food, you have lost any kharmaic points by being an ass, you don’t know the myths and you aren’t sharing any thoughts. You’re making the gathered family feel stupid for gathering at your door.

And you should go shoot yourself.