TYOLD Day 80: Everywhere I Have Ever Worked

I was talking to someone the other day and they were saying that in their life they have only had a few jobs.  I, on the other hand, have had about a billion.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration but I have had a lot of jobs.  So today, for the first time, I am documenting everywhere I have ever worked.  You may want to sit down for this.

My first “job” was delivering the Penny Saver in Cedar Rapids, Iowa when I was probably 12 or 13.  I hated it.  I got stung by wasps during the summer and had to trudge through cold and snow in winter.  I remember coming home crying one freezing evening and pretty much said I’m never doing this again and that was that.

My first real job was at Domino’s Pizza in 1984 in Ames, Iowa (home of Iowa State University where I went for one year).  This was a lot like delivering the Penny Saver only I had a car, but everything else was just as miserable.  I got a speeding ticket, got into an accident (slid backwards in the ice into a USPS mailbox that was bolted into concrete and broke my seat), and had to deliver pizzas on days when it was so cold that they shut down the school for the first time in like 50 years or something like that.

When I moved to California in 1985, my first job out here was selling tires and batteries at the Montgomery Ward auto center.  I was lousy at it because the only way you could make money was to sell things that were more expensive and usually completely unnecessary to people, like heavy duty batteries to little old ladies driving Toyota Corollas.  I just couldn’t do it.  But they liked me anyway so they wound up giving me the night manager position, which was ridiculous because I didn’t know jack about cars other than how to drive them.  So people would come to pick up their vehicles at the end of the day and I’d have to make up stuff to try to sound like I knew what I was talking about.  “We had to replace the rear jetson and the internal cable system, but it’s working great now.”  The fact that nobody ever called me on it probably said a lot about the people who brought their cars to the Montgomery Ward Auto Center.  The most memorably experience I had here was when one of the mechanics was going to work on a beautiful 1960s Thunderbird and didn’t put it on the lift properly – it fell off.  And I’m the one who had to tell the guy.  He took it remarkably well.

During this time I also got a part-time job working at an Avis agency at the Van Nuys airport.  My main job at first was to shuttle the cars back and forth to the car wash and just generally make sure they were ready for rental.   Best story… We had a semi-regular customer who was considering buying a Pontiac Grand Am GT and so we put in a request to get one.  After months it finally showed up and it was brand new – like 30 miles on the odometer and it still had plastic on the seats.  I drove it up to the car wash and wound up driving it into the back of a truck that was stopped on a curve.  It had one of those hydraulic lift gates down and it sliced the engine of the Pontiac in two like it was butter.  Totalled the car.  The company took it remarkably well.

We moved our agency to another building that had the space for us to wash cars ourselves so that became my job but I also started doing the rentals on evenings and weekends.  In 1987 I got offered my very own Avis agency in Arcadia – I was only 21 and was one of the youngest people ever to get my own.

It was a fairly miserable experience also.  The building that had been there was knocked down in the Whittier-Narrows earthquake and the agency was operating out of a temporary trailer with a port-a-potty as a bathroom.  The naive 21 year old was the only one stupid enough to take it.  But I did well at it for about a year, working pretty much 7-days a week, 12 hours a day.  I wound up pissing off some of the powers that be (long story) and eventually they made things so miserable for me that I had to quit.

That’s when I transitioned to the entertainment industry or something adjacent to it.  In early 1988 I got a job as a receptionist at a small talent agency in Hollywood.  It was bat-shit crazy town with these two sisters who ran it – blond Norwegian women of an indiscernible age because they had so much plastic surgery they barely looked human anymore.  That lasted three months until I “you can fire me I quit”-ted because I called Marty Ingalls an asshole and hung up on him.  That’s another long story.

I then got a job in the mailroom at a bigger talent agency , ICM.  My desk was located in an alcove right next to the back door where all the big celebrities would go in and out so I saw all the stars of the era from Arnold to Sly to Michele Pfieffer and beyond.  They completely ignored me, of course, even when they stopped to get a drink out of the water fountain that was literally 3 feet from my desk.  Whatever. This is where I met Mary, so despite that being a fairly unpleasant job, generally speaking, it was all good in the end.

It was also right around here sometime that I started working as a bouncer at Micky’s, one of the big gay bars in West Hollywood.  I have LOTS of stories about that but this is already getting long and we’re only up to 1989.  But just to close out this particular loop, over the next dozen years or so, I worked as a bouncer, a bartender, and as a DJ in at least five different bars that I can think of off the top of my head – there may have been more, but they were the aforementioned Micky’s, Encounters in Pasadena, Encounters in North Hollywood, The Apache in Studio City, and Rafters in West Hollywood.

Back in the day job world, I left ICM in late 1989 or early 1990 to go work for The Colony Theater, a local 99-seat playhouse, as their administrative director (which was really a glorified title for office drone).  This was the place that inspired me to start writing and eventually did two of my plays, “17 Days” and “Mountains.”

In 1991 I went to go work for Crossroads School, a rich kids arts-focused private school in Santa Monica that the kids of people like Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, and Tracey Ullman among many others.  That was an absolutely awful job because I had a boss that as absolutely certifiably insane and she took out her insanity on me.  Wow, do I have stories about this one.  Later.

1992 I left there to go work on post-production for a movie that no one ever saw.  It was called “Back in the USSR” and it starred Frank Whaley and Roman Polanski (as an actor, not a director).  It was awful and was only released in one theater in San Francisco and then went straight to DVD.  I basically answered phones in the production office while they were editing, scoring, etc.  I got my name in the credits.

After that I got a job working at KCET, the local PBS affiliate, first running the small store and then later managing the call center where people would phone in to order video cassettes or transcripts, which seems so quaint now.

1994 I got a job working at a company called NATPE-Net, which did broadcast faxing.  This was before the interwebs and the best way to communicate to multiple people or businesses was to send out faxes.  Our clients were primarily TV distributors who had daytime shows like Sally Jesse or Jerry Springer who needed to tell all of the TV stations that carried the shows what the next episode coming via satellite was.

I left there in a bit of a huff in 1997 and spent the next 18 months adrift basically.  I pretty much just temped in a bunch of places.  I remember being at Warner Bros. Records for awhile and at Universal Pictures mainly doing general office work.  I did take a job briefly as an assistant to Jimmy Doolittle, who was a big-time theater producer/owner here in LA.  He was very old at the time and a bit batty and I made it about a week until he told me that he liked me so much that he was going to let me be the one to do his daily “blood stick” to check his sugar levels for diabetes.  I said, um… no.

It was in here that I started my Vegas stuff, first writing the Frommer’s travel guide with Mary in 1997 and then the Complete Idiot’s Guide in 1998 and launching the Vegas4Visitors.com website.  Still doing that 16 years later.

I finally landed at a small production company in Studio City out of desperation and then two weeks later got the offer to go work at Maverick, Madonna’s record label.  Boring office job in a windowless room vs. working for Madonna.  hmmmmm….

Of course that was another horrific experience.  I’ll tell you all those stories some day but one involves someone throwing an American Music Award at my head and the other involves me dancing on a chair with Madonna at the office Christmas party.  Oy.

I left there to go work for a small Internet start-up called iWin.  We did games and prizes.  They got bought by Uproar.com, a similarly themed website and we ran both. Then that got bought by Flipside.com, which had two website that did the same basic thing.  We ran all four.  Then that got bought by Vivendi Universal and then they basically went bankrupt and sold a bunch of stuff including us to Jackpot.com, which pretty much stripped the thing for parts and laid off everyone.  During that time I started as a production coordinator and then eventually worked my way up to the Director of Production.

After being laid off there in 2003, I temped some more and then I went to go work a temp job at Disney as a producer for the Internet group.  That turned into a full-time position, which I had until late 2006.

I left there to go worth for Yahoo! in their games division as a senior product manager and then got laid off at the end of 2007.

Luckily, Disney wanted me back to I returned to the House of Mouse and stayed there for almost 5 years until I got laid off again.  Working in the Internet world means you get laid off from time to time.  It’s just part of the package.

I was unemployed for about a year until I got hired at Viking Cruises in 2012.  I’m still there.

The total depends on how you want to count.  I had different jobs at the same company and worked the same job at the same company but in different places.  Plus all the temp jobs.  But I’m going to call it at more than two dozen.

Who knows what will be next…


TYOLD Day 79: Knock Knock

I was browsing around the interwebs the other day and came across an interview with Tina Fey where they asked her a bunch of “funniest…” questions.  What is the funniest movie ever made?  What is the funniest word?  Funniest person alive?  (Caddyshack, kumquat, Melissa McCarthy were her respective answers)

One of the questions was, what’s the funniest knock knock joke, and she told this classic:

Knock knock?
Who’s there?
Interrupting cow.
Interrupt…. MOOOO!

The first time I heard that I thought it was hysterical but let’s be honest, it’s the type of joke that really only works well once.  After that it’s funnier to tell it than to hear it.

But it got me thinking… are there any actually funny Knock Knock jokes out there?  I spent some more time on the interwebs (I have such a productive life) and came up with these, all of which made me at least smile and in some cases laugh out loud.  Some probably give way too much of an insight into my psyche, but here we go… my differently for the day is I learned a bunch of new Knock Knock jokes:

Knock knock?
Who’s there?
Me who?
No, seriously, it’s just me. I am telling a knock knock joke.

Knock Knock!
Who’s there?
Yo momma
Yo momma,who?
Seriously, it’s yo momma, open the damned door!

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Interrupting doctor.
Interrup-You have cancer.

(I had cancer – I get to think that’s funny.  The rest of you can clutch your pearls.)

Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Interrupting dyslexic cow
Interrupting dysle-

Knock Knock
Who’s there?

Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Doorbell repairman
Dorbell repairman who?
Every fuckin’ time

Knock knock
Who’s there
Interrupting sloth
Interrupting sloth who?
(15 seconds later)

Who’s there?
To who?
To whom

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Shit, stop the funeral!

And my favorite, because… well, if you know me you’ll know why…

Who’s there
Control freak. Now you say “control freak who?”


TYOLD Day 78: And Don’t Call Me Shirley

I hate flying, but only partially because of my paralyzing fear of heights and plane crashes and overly cheery flight attendants in no-wrinkle drip-dry.

Mostly it’s because I hate the process of having to get to the airplane. Completely lacking in anything even remotely resembling patience, as I am, and convinced, as I am again, that life is really just one long line that, instead of ending, just keeps moving to different places, airports are like the seventh circle of hell to me.

I fly more than the Average Joe it seems.  The research I read said about 12% of the US population takes more than five flights per year and I usually do 5 or 6.  Most of that is Vegas but I also go to Chicago every Memorial Day and then try to go to one or two other places at some point.  This year, for instance, I will probably be going to my 30 year high school reunion (ouch… it type that) and I may also go to either New Orleans or Savannah (maybe both!).

Because of that frequency, when I heard about the new TSA Pre-Check program I said “sign me up.”  Basically what you do is fill out a form and then go to a local identity verification office to get fingerprinted, show your passport, and pay an $85 fee (which I did today – different!).  That gets you a “Known Traveler Number” that gets used every time you book a flight and, when you are at participating airports and on participating airlines (which is most, but not all of them), you get to skip the regular security screening line and procedures.  There is a separate, usually much shorter, line and you don’t have to take off your shoes, belt, or jackets and you can leave your computer in your bag.  In places like Burbank airport where I often fly out of that isn’t going to be that big of a deal because the security lines are rarely very long.  But in someplace like Vegas or Chicago, it could save me 30 minutes or more.

You can visit the TSA website for more information.

Surely, you want to save time at the airport?


TYOLD Day 77: Park-ing It

Another tremendously fun evening at the PaleyFest, this time for “Parks & Recreation,” which is by far my favorite comedy on TV right now.

We got to watch this week’s episode, which is typically terrific.  Best line: “5 second rule!”  Trust me.

Then the panel with creator Michael Schur and the cast including Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Jim O’Heir, Retta, Ben Schwartz, and Billy Eichner.  The moderator was Patton Oswald, who was also fantastic.  This was absolutely the most entertaining panel so far, which shouldn’t be surprising considering these people are all such smart comedians.

Amy Poehler was genuine and funny (and a little drunk by the end of it, I think), Retta was a freakin’ riot, Chris Pratt is looking kinda hot these days, and there was a stoner geek in the audience that got to ask a question and basically all he did was stand there and freak out, to the point that the cast gave HIM a standing ovation.

Afterwards, a margarita and Mexican food at Cabo Wabo Cantina with my friend Maureen.

Earthquakes be damned – I love that I get to live in LA and have these kinds of evenings.


TYOLD Day 76: Shaking It Up

Many years ago I made a half-assed effort to create an earthquake kit. The timing is a little hazy, but I think it was not long after the Northridge quake when I had moved into my new apartment and felt like maybe having some supplies ready for when it happened again probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

If I remember correctly I got some batteries, a pair of work gloves, a cheap flashlight, a lighter, a few bottles of water, some crackers, some single serving cups of applesauce, and a couple of cans of fruit cocktail. My biggest problem was the food – everything sounded gross – beans? Tuna? Ew. No. I’d rather starve.

I put it all in a bag and threw it in a closet and there it sat for years and years and years and the batteries drained and the water evaporated and the food spoiled and I took the work gloves and the flashlight out to use for something and never put them back and so if there had been an earthquake I would’ve been screwed.

So this morning there was an earthquake. It wasn’t a big one – 4.4. Usually I don’t get out of bed for anything less than a 5.0, but this one was felt pretty sharply in the San Fernando Valley where I live and so it definitely got me moving. I stood in the doorway and let it subside and then looked at the clock, realizing I still had 30 more minutes to get more sleep. I didn’t… I wound up watching various newscasts with reporters trying to come up with something interesting to say about something that didn’t actually do anything other than wake a bunch of people up.

But even though it was very small and relatively inconsequential, I decided that today was the day I would finally make a real effort at not one, but two earthquake kits – one for the apartment and one for the car. Here’s what I have put in mine:

  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Rope
  • Work gloves
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Toilet paper
  • Antiseptic spray and cream
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Bandages and band-aids
  • Disinfecting wipes (both for surfaces and hands)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • 2 gallons of water
  • Hooded poncho
  • Emergency blanket
  • Glow stick (not for raves, but for emergencies)
  • Scissors
  • Pair of pliers
  • 3 days worth of medication
  • A little bit of cash
  • Enough food for 3 days (and more than just crackers and fruit cocktail)

I have a smaller version going in the car with much of the above plus a small fire extinguisher.

Okay disaster… I’m ready… but you can just trust me on it, you don’t have to make me prove it.



TYOLD Day 75: Getting Lost

Today it was back to PaleyFest for another one of my favorite TV shows of all time, Lost, which is celebrating the 10th anniversary of it’s debut this year.

It started with a screening of an episode, Exodus Part 1, from the end of the first season. It was a great reminder of how when this show as at its best it was a pretty freakin’ awesome show. This one had it all – intrigue, mystery, and, most importantly, genuine human emotion. There’s a scene where Sawyer tells Jack about his encounter with Jack’s father at a bar that is heart rending. After it was over, I turned to my friend Maureen and said, “Well, I know what I’m doing this summer.” Rewatching the entire series of Lost? Yes, thank you.

Afterward there was the panel, which featured creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse plus cast members Josh Holloway (Sawyer), Jorge Garcia (Hurley), Yunjin Kim (Sun), Ian Somerhalder (Boone), Maggie Grace (Shannon), Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond), and Malcom David Kelly (Walt). Not bad… maybe a little disappointed not to get Matthew Fox (Jack), Evangeline Lilly (Kate, Terry O’Quinn (Locke), Michael Emerson (Ben), Daniel Dae Kim (Jin), or Dominic Monaghan (Charlie) but I guess you take what you can get at these things.

Everyone was engaged and entertaining and, for the most part, exactly who you would expect them to be. Josh Holloway and Iam Somerhalder were kind of cocky hooligans (but in a fun way) and Jorge Garcia was really funny.

Of course the big revelation that got widely reported on was when the creators said that their intention with the much maligned finale was not to suggest that they had been dead the entire time – they were alive on the island and the stuff actually happened to them; they died later and reunited.

Sorry, should I have said spoiler alert? It’s been three years people, get over it.

I don’t know… I think Lost was the type of show where you got to intepret things the way you wanted to intepret them regardless of how they were intended. I prefer the intepretation that they all died in the plane crash and the events on and off the island were intending to show these character’s journeys toward getting over all the truly shitty stuff that happened to them in their lives. Not exactly purgatory, but a journey of accepting who they were and how they fit into the world.

Of course when I re-watch it this summer I might change my mind, but for now that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.lost



TYOLD Day 74: Anger (but not in a bad way)

If you decided to look for it, there was a theme to my Differentlies tonight.

First, my friend Maureen and I went to eat at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at The London Hotel in West Hollywood.  You know Gordon Ramsay, he’s that really angry guy that yells a lot at people in kitchens for reasons that have always escaped me.

I have been to all three of his restaurants in Vegas, which range from the okay but overpriced Gordon Ramsay Steak to the quite good and affordable Gordon Ramsay BurGR (see what he did there?), with a stop at the Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill falling somewhere in between.  But I have never been to his restaurant here in LA.

Not bad, not great.  Maureen and I both agreed that at first glance the room was kinda cool, with a retro, shabby chic kind of effect.  But then we looked closer and decided it was just kind of shabby.  The furnishings were unacceptably worn, especially for a restaurant that charges these kinds of prices.  Now, luckily for us, Maureen had a gift certificate so it didn’t wind up costing us that much, but in the end between the two of us with two appetizers, two entrees, and two drinks apiece, plus tax, it was $175 – before tip.  If I’m paying that much I don’t want ratty furniture, sorry.

Maureen had the salmon and declared it quite tasty and I had a steak, which was good but not mind blowing.  Steak is tough – it has to be really amazing, either with a great rub or a great wood to cook it over, to serve it without accompaniment like a sauce or a topping, and this one wasn’t amazing.

Then it was off to the Saban Theater (another 1st for me) to see comedian Lewis Black.  He’s one of my favorite stand-ups but I have never seen him in person.  If you don’t know who he is, go YouTube him – there’s about a billion videos, including the full length versions of many of his comedy specials.  But the short version is that he’s angry… at everything… in a really funny way and totally justifiably and probably about stuff that you’re angry about also, but yeah, he’s angry.  Laughed my ass off.  Needed it.   I’m kinda angry also.


TYOLD Day 73: Tire-d

As I left the Veronica Mars panel at PaleyFest last night, I noticed a nail in my tire.  This sucks on a great number of levels, not the least of which is the fact that I am entirely incapable of changing a tire anymore.  I know how to do it, but I have free roadside assistance so really, why?

But in that moment, at nearly 11 at night, the tire seemed fine despite the presence of the aforementioned nail.  It hadn’t lost any air and so I shrugged and said, “life is too short to wait in the bowels of the Hollywood and Highland parking garage waiting for a service call to change a tire that isn’t actually flat.”  So I drove home.  Stupid, I know, but I did it anyway.  And the tire didn’t explode while I was driving 70 miles per hour on the freeway so ha, ha, I cheat death once again.

So this morning I get up at the ass crack of dawn to go get the tire fixed and still be able to make it into work at a decent time.

Place #1 couldn’t do anything for me because I have these kind of ridiculous massive rims on my trying-to-be-sporty SUV-but-really-just-a-blinged-out-mom-van and they didn’t have a machine that could handle them.

Place #2 looked at it and said, “oh you’re going to have replace the tire.”  I came very close to saying “30 years ago I worked at the Montgomery Ward Auto Center selling tires and I know that this can be repaired, bitch.”  But he was bigger than me so instead I said, “um, nuh-uh” and then I ran.

Place #3 was the Ford dealer, which is a pretty ridiculous place to take a vehicle with a nail in the tire (still not flat by the way despite sitting all night and driving around to multiple tire places), but they said sure, that’ll be $25 (as opposed to the $450 that a new tire costs) and we’ll get right on that.

An HOUR later, which was of course about two hours after all of this started, I’m finally read to go to work… well… “ready” is probably the wrong word but at the very least I no longer had a valid excuse not to anymore… and I look at the Sigalert and Waze apps and the car’s navigation and all of the above basically show 15 miles of nothing but red on the 101.  Just in case you happen to live in an area that doesn’t have mind numbing traffic and/or don’t have a grasp of the obvious, red is bad.

Unable to deal after my tiring morning (see what I did there?), I said fuck it and decided to take surface streets all the way to work today.  I have taken surface streets all they way home before, but never all the way to work in the morning.  Magnolia to Sepulveda to Burbank to Ventura to Canoga and voila, 30 minutes later I’m at work.  I’m pretty sure the freeway would’ve taken me at least 45.  I may have to try this more often, but I also think I kind of lucked out with lights and stuff so who knows.

But as I am driving this morning I was able to notice things other than the sound barrier walls and other cars doing 10 miles an hour around me and so I made mental notes of places I saw along the way that looked interesting that I want to check out.

For instance there is a place on Magnolia called Harvest Moon Kitchen Marketplace.  It looked interesting so later I looked it up and they have a really intriguing, farm-to-table style menu, cooking classes, a gourmet market, and more.  I totally want to go there now and I never would’ve seen it if it hadn’t been for the stupid nail in my tire, so you know… it all works out in the end.

Yes, $450.  I don't know why.

Yes, $450. I don’t know why.

TYOLD Day 72: Neptune High

I let my inner geek fly high tonight with my first ever visit to a PaleyFest panel – this one for one of my all time favorite shows, Veronica Mars!

For those who don’t know, PaleyFest is an annual event put on by the Paley Center for Media where they bring together the casts and producers of various televisions shows for a panel discussion in front of a live audience.  This year they are doing more than a dozen shows including Mad Men, Pretty Little Liars, Veep, Community, The Mindy Project, Sleep Hollow, Orange is the New Black, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and Mad Men.

In addition to Veronica, I’m also going to Lost: 10th Anniversary Reunion, Parks & Recreation,  and (take a deep breath) American Horror Story: Coven.  (insert fangirl squeeeeeeeee here)

So the Veronica Mars panel had producer Rob Thomas and stars Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Chris Lowell, Ryan Hansen, Percy Daggs, Francis Capra, and Tina Majorino.  We got to see the very funny and at times touching documentary all about the Kickstarter campaign that funded the new Veronica Mars movie (out tomorrow!) an then the cast talked about making the film and the show.

The most refreshing thing about it was that these are people that seem genuinely humbled by and extraordinarily grateful about the fact that 91,000 people donated nearly $6 million to give them a chance to bring back characters that they loved anyway.  The documentary had this really great part in where some fans found out about a filming location and showed up in the middle of the night, so most of the cast went out to talk to them, sign autographs, and pose for pictures.  Another scene shows cast members bringing donuts to people standing in line to get tickets to a panel discussion at Comic-Con.  It’s cool that they aren’t taking anything for granted.

I have blocked out a couple of hours this weekend to see the movie so if you call, text, email, or drive by and I don’t respond now you know why.


TYOLD Day 71: False Alarm?

My Differently for today was going to get an ultrasound to try to find the rogue spots that showed up on my PET scan a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve had an ultrasound before but only an internal one done with the endoscopies (tubes and cameras and stuff down my throat) that I have to get regularly because of the cancer hooha.  This was the first traditional one I’ve had done with the goop and the wand and the random images that look like nothing to me but apparently mean something to the technician doing the procedure.

As she pointed out a spot on the screen I wanted to say “It’s a boy!” but I wasn’t sure she’d think it was funny.

Anyway, the radiologist found what she believed was one of the lymph nodes that the scan picked up and she agreed that it looked a little angry but not angry enough to worry about right now.  Neither the radiologist or the technician could find the second “tiny” spot at all, but agreed that it was in a difficult spot (under the collar bone) to see with the ultrasound.  She thought that getting a biopsy of the one they did see wasn’t exactly required but also not completely unnecessary either – basically she’s going to do her report and let Dr. Wile E. Coyote decide, and he’ll most likely say wait.

So while not exactly the “all clear” that I was hoping for (hence the question mark in the title of this post), it’s as close as I can get right now and I’ll take it.